The Spanish government said Friday it has given conditional approval to Gas Natural's 22 billion euros (US$26.5 billion) takeover bid for utility Endesa. Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega announced the decision after a weekly Cabinet meeting. She insisted the takeover would not hinder competition in the energy sector and was in Spain 's national interest.
She said Spain is too dependent on outside sources of energy and a new, combined company would gives the country more leverage to negotiate with gas-producing countries "and make us more independent with respect to other countries."
"The government feels that this operation not only does not hinder competition but, if it is carried out with the conditions imposed, will certainly contribute toward encouraging competition and will therefore benefit consumers," she said.
The conditions are expected to include forcing the combined company to sell off some electricity-generating capacity and shed a large number of gas customers, reports the AP.